Monday, March 23, 2009

Your First Post

This may be the hardest post to write. If you don't know where else to start, how about "Welcome to My Blog"? Explain why you've started your blog, and what kind of things you plan to write about. This launch post will also serve as a reminder to you whenever you find yourself deviating from your theme as you continue to blog. Keep your posts short, develop momentum, stick to what you know. You probably have a lot of helpful information that other people would like to know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Let's Get Started

Step 2
The rules to blogging are simple:
Be Clear – Simple and concise.
Be Accurate – Spelling and punctuation counts.
Be Yourself – Whether it’s controversial, persuasive or personal, be expressive make it worth reading.

The first thing you need to do to start is determine your focus. What do you want to write about? The more popular your theme is, the more the search engines will like you, remember both theme and frequency of posts will give your blog more “Google Juice”)

Before committing to that theme, ask yourself some questions.
Does it lend itself to ongoing posts and discussions?
Does it excite you? Will the topic motivate you enough to write about in the long term? Do you want to be known as an expert on the topic?
How much time do you have to write and research your topic?

Next, offer the basics in your blog. Make readers feel comfortable and at home. Make sure there is an easy way to leave comments, have clear titles for your postings, offers a blogroll of your favourite blogs and don’t forget to fill in the “About Me” section.

Finally, get connected. Find blogs in your niche area and add value through participate. Comment on their postings and suggest they do the same on yours. There are blog groups for everything from crock-pot cooking to zebra watching, they are easy to find by going to Google and clicking on “search blogs” the same you would select “search the web.”

Meg Hourihan said it best on her blog, “When we talk about weblogs, we’re talking about a way of organizing information, independent of its topic. What we write about does not define us as bloggers; it’s how we write about it (frequently, ad nauseam, peppered with links.” Meg Hourihan, by the way, is co-founder of the company Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger.

Choosing your Theme

It doesn't matter whether you're a web savvy warblogger, a college student worried about assignments, or a retiree looking for a hobby, there are people out there with the same interests as you. Once you've decided you want to blog, the theme should be a natural progression. What are you passionate about? Is there enough to sustain regular updates? Some write on what's happening to them at the moment - this is truly a "web journal." Others focus on a primary theme, this attracts a loyal following, people with similiar interests who will come back for more. There are no "rules" to blogging, it's okay to deviate from your theme, just remember to be true to your blog. Keep in mind why you started your blog in the first place. Check out other blogs by googling your topic, find you niche then sit back and enjoy. The best advice?
Write to express, not impress.

What exactly is a Blog?

Blog is short for Weblog which originally meant a personal log on the web. As interest grew people referred to it as We-Blog and now, simply Blog.
As Lee Lefever of Common Craft explains "Blogs are websites that are organized in blog posts." It's an easy, inexpensive way to reach a large group of people. At first it was more of an web diary, personal, shared among a small group of friends. September 11th changed all that. Catherine Seippe discussed this for the American Journalism Review, she wrote "But after September 11, a slew of new or refocused media junkie/political sites reshaped the entire Internet media landscape. Blog now refers to a Web journal that comments on the news--often by criticizing the media and usually in rudely clever tones--with links to stories that back up the commentary with evidence."
Blogs are usually in reverse chronological order, giving readers the feeling of getting the information as it happens. They share a common format so that readers can skim through it quickly. Skimming another necessity in our multi-tasking world. Postings are often short, and to the point. So instead of rambling on about blogs, check out the video from one of my favourite blogs commoncraft.

Why Blog?

Step 1
Before you start your blog, figure out why you want to do it in the first place. Is it for personal or professional reasons? Some people start a blog to give potential employers a glimpse into what and who they are, a richer impression above and beyond that nerve-racking interview. A blog enables employers and/or customers to get to know you and like you before they work with you. Just remember when you decide to commit to blogging that, like everything else, what you put up on the Web will last forever somewhere in cyberspace.
Personal bloggers use blogging as an outlet, a way to express themselves. Blogs allow us to have online conversations with people who are interested in the same things we are. Whether it's creative writing, political writing, technical writing, there's a niche for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to educate or illuminate or aggravate – just remember to stay true to your niche. Always keep your audience and your common theme in mind.
Why shouldn't you blog? You shouldn't blog just because you "think" you should blog. If you don't have the time and commitment - stop now. As Li Evans of KeyRelevance says, “If you don't have that passion to sit there and write blog posts and communicate with your audience, you shouldn't be blogging.” Your disinterest will show through in your blog. A stale blog or an abandoned blog does nothing for your reputation.